Boris Johnson announces free testing to end from April 1 under ‘living with Covid’ plan

The Prime Minister announced an end to the need to self-isolate if infected from February 24 and claimed it was “time to get our confidence back”.

Making a statement to MPs, Mr Johnson also revealed vaccinated contacts would no longer have to test for seven days, an end to routine contact tracing, and confirmed the end to free tests.

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He said: “Those who would wait for a total end to this war before lifting the remaining regulations, would be restricting the liberties of the British people for a long time to come.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson updates MPs in the House of Commons with the plan for living with Covid-19. Picture date: Monday February 21, 2022.

“This government does not believe that it is right or necessary.

“Restrictions pose a heavy toll on our economy, our society, our mental wellbeing, and the life chances of our children.

“And we do not need to pay that cost any longer.

“We have the antivirals, the treatments, and the scientific understanding of this virus,

and we have the capabilities to respond rapidly to any resurgence or new variant.

“We don’t need laws to compel people to be considerate of others.

“We can rely on that sense of responsibility towards one another, providing practical advice in the knowledge that people will follow it to avoid infecting loved ones and others.

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“So let us learn to live with this virus and continue protecting ourselves without restricting our freedoms.”

Mr Johnson unveiled his plans to end restrictions in a statement that also saw him admit new variants were a threat.

He said: “SAGE advise there is considerable uncertainty about the future path of the pandemic, and there may be significant resurgences.

“They are certain there will be new variants and it’s very possible those will be worse than Omicron.”

The announcement came after a Cabinet meeting on the plans was delayed due to what is believed to be a spat between the Health Secretary Sajid Javid and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Mr Javid is believed to have wanted to continue with free testing, only for the funding to be repeatedly denied by Mr Sunak.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the delayed Cabinet meeting was a sign of “chaos and incompetence”.

He said: “The Government is paralyzed by its own chaos and incompetence and the British public are paying the price. This shambles cannot continue.

“What confidence can the public have that the Conservatives are acting in the national interest when they can’t agree to a plan for Covid?

“It is clear the Prime Minister was trying to declare victory before the war is over, simply to distract from the police knocking at the door of Number 10.

“Labor published our plan for living well with Covid in January. It would prepare us for new variants and secure our lives, livelihoods and liberties. If the Conservatives are too incompetent to agree to their own plan, they are welcome to use ours.”

A No 10 spokesman insisted: “Cabinet gave unanimous backing to the living with Covid strategy.”

It comes as a further 15 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total to 160,610.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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